“In my eyes, it’s pretty simple who can dress and who can’t,” says Frank Jackson, the 23-year-old point guard for the Detroit Pistons. Easy for him to say. Jackson is one of the best dressed players in a league rife with competition, a 2017 second-round pick who strolled confidently into the most stylish sports association in the world. In a league that prizes star wattage above all else—where mononymous superstars like LeBron and Durant generate the majority of headlines—Jackson has carved out a small but dedicated following among fans who dig his personal style as much as his handles. Right now, no player dresses with more understated finesse than him, a diehard menswear aficionado with an abiding appreciation for brands that land firmly on fashion’s bleeding edge—and the style chops to pull them off. A closet packed with vintage grails (including a stacked collection of Orange Tab Levi’s 505s) and designer gems certainly helps. But to hear Jackson tell it, the interest was there long before he had the means to indulge it.
Jackson has been a certified jawnz enthusiast since he was a kid. He remembers watching The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and retreating to his room for hours to put together outfits inspired by the show. (Don’t sleep on Mr. Moseby’s god-tier fits!) The process of trying on clothing to see what works and what doesn’t is one he still finds cathartic—crucial, even, to his stylistic development. “I feel like the last couple years, I’ve been kind of experimenting,” Jackson says, speaking by phone earlier this month. “And this year I really got my sizing down and figured out what I like to wear.” Jackson isn’t a center (he clocks in at an only-slightly-above average 6’3”) so finding clothing that fits isn’t exactly a Herculean task. But his hectic travel schedule means he has to do the bulk of his shopping online. Understanding his measurements—memorizing them down to the last half centimeter—might sound rudimentary, but for Jackson it was a revelation, unlocking a degree of awareness that sparked a serious turning point in his personal style.
Amidst a deluge of skintight Amiri jeans and graphic-laden sweatshirts, Jackson stands out as an exemplar of high-level restraint, the rare athlete whose style you should actually imitate. If most NBA players dress like they just blew their signing bonus at Kith, Jackson dresses more like one of the achingly hip microinfluencers prone to loitering outside Café Forgot. His tunnel fits are the stuff carefully curated photo dumps are built around. But the primary reason he sticks out in a league chock full of wannabe style gurus? He wears his clothing often, and wears them hard. “I think it’s hilarious when guys talk about ‘Oh, I don’t wear the same thing twice.’ Why? That’s crazy.” When he finds something he likes—an ultra-rare pair of derbys Raf Simons designed in collaboration with Dr. Martens, say, or a sleek black Acne Studios blazer with artfully crinkled lapels—he wears it to death, mixing and matching it with whatever else he’s got in his closet.
Asked to name a few brands he’s feeling, Jackson is quick to shout out heavy hitters like Rick Owens and Fear of God, but also smaller imprints like Second/Layer and Bad Son—an upstart label founded by a fellow Utah native even younger than him. These days he mostly shops online at SSENSE, the Montreal-based fashion mecca whose signature merchandising mix makes it a perennial favorite among the world’s most elite dressers and, uh, the staff of this magazine.
He’s especially effusive in his praise for Jerry Lorenzo, the Fear of God designer who was recently appointed the head of Adidas’ basketball division and who he’s modeled for in the past. Jackson sees in Lorenzo a kindred spirit of sorts, a designer of the highest order just as dedicated to doing good as he is to nailing the fit on an ‘80s inspired double-breasted blazer. “When I was around Jerry, I just felt that [positivity] all the way. It was a great example for me.” That rings particularly true in the context of Rare Roses, the brand Jackson founded as a side project with his childhood friend Trey Rose. “My friends are some of the most creative people I know,” he says, “so it’s cool to be in settings where a ton of friends are collaborating and mixing up whatever they want.”
The guy might have a lot going on, but hoops will always come first. “I’m a basketball player, full time,” Jackson says. “And that takes my main focus.” In other words, he’s not exactly stressing where his appreciation for fashion will lead him next. “I’m interested in a lot of things and I think [my style] will continue to change,” he says. “But at the same time I feel like I’ve found a solid basis of what I like to wear every single day.” For his fans on and off the court, the start of the 2022 NBA season—and the chance to see what Frank Jackson is wearing, day in and day out—can’t come soon enough.